By Deanna C. White
In terms of setting herself up to enter today's highly competitive job market, Skylar Cox, a senior finance and accounting major at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said she participates in as many activities as possible to ensure she brings her "A-Game when interacting with potential employers."
Cox, who aspires to work at one of the Big Four upon graduation, has attended all of Temple's major career center workshops. She's had the center's corporate partners review her resume; she's networked with potential employers at the college's Spring Connection recruiting event; and she's even familiarized herself with appropriate business professional and business casual attire at the university's fashion show that outlined the dos and don'ts of dressing in a corporate setting.
And this summer, Cox participated in a new activity that will truly separate her from the crowd.
Cox was one of 250 college students from across the country who attended the Summit June 20. The event, designed for high-performing college students at least two years away from graduation, is part of EY's latest push to connect with students much earlier in their college careers than was previously the norm.
"The Emerging Leaders Summit gave me the chance to learn about leadership and developing a global mind-set directly from global leaders at EY. It's a chance I never would have gotten in a classroom", Cox said.
College students from more than thirty-four US states, as well as from Canada and Mexico, attended the Summit. The summit was open to students studying accounting and/or business with an interest in professional services, who demonstrated leadership potential both academically and personally. Participants ranged from college sophomores to seniors. More than 30 percent of the students were minorities, with more than 17 percent being underrepresented minorities (African American, Hispanic, and Natives American), according to EY officials.
EY got the opportunity to explore the students' potential as prospective employees and to develop the necessary skills they're looking for in their future talent pool.
One of the key leadership skills EY is trying to cultivate in all these students, whether their career leads them to EY or not, is a global mind-set said Ernst & Young LLP's Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting Ken Bouyer.
According to EY, the competency is so important that the firm has "placed an increased emphasis on hiring candidates with a global mind-set in our fiscal year 2014 recruiting season", with EY increasing [its] global mind-set interview topics in FY14 to include questions that demonstrate a candidate's proficiency in this area."
One of the key objectives of the Summit, Bouyer said, was to ensure students know those questions are coming and to get that message across as soon as possible.
"We're committed to building a relationship with these students early in their college careers", said Bouyer. "If they're top talent, we want to develop them, and we want them to see the world differently. If they're going to come to work for EY, it will obviously be a huge benefit that they have begun to develop a global mind-set by the time they walk in the door."
Bouyer's keynote",Global Mindset: Developing Inclusiveness in an Interconnected World", introduced the students to the concept and explored ways students can broaden their understanding of other cultures.
Bouyer said developing that global skill set is critical to the students' success and critical to the success of the firm.
"There are two things we're really focused on here at EY – our people and our students", Bouyer added. "How we develop their talents is critical to how successful we are in the future, and to be successful, we need to be able to work with people across the globe in a seamless way."
Bouyer said the global mind-set is made up of intellectual, social, and psychological capabilities that allow a person to function anywhere in the world.
"We're talking about how well you do business across the globe", Bouyer said. "[How well you understand] the cultural backdrop of a place. How well you appreciate verbal and nonverbal cues, direct versus indirect styles of communication. How well can you function if we just drop you in."
But how can college students possibly develop of global skill set when many of them are still taking their laundry home to their parents on the weekends?
Bouyer said college students can begin to practice global thinking by simply tapping into the framework of cultural diversity that is around them every day.
"One thing I really want to emphasize is that this is not just about travel. It's about how well you communicate and build relationships with people from different backgrounds", Bouyer said. "I tell students there are international students on campus every day – have some very real conversations with them. Learn about where they come from, their history, and their culture. Step beyond your fraternity or sorority and join a club with people whose backgrounds are very different from your own. Put yourself out there."
And, Bouyer said an academic environment is the safest place to do that.
Bouyer also suggested students use tools like www.globalmindset.com to expand their cultural horizons, and, if possible",raise their hands to study abroad."
Cox said two ideas that really resonated with her were reading as much as possible in global newspapers and other sources about the cultures and politics of unfamiliar countries, and joining international clubs at school to learn about people from diverse backgrounds.
"This is all incredibly exciting to me in two different ways. First, the idea of coming into a market and a company that's so globally integrated is a great benefit to anyone", Cox said. "And I'm also excited because I have the desire to travel and work with people around the globe."
Bouyer said capitalizing on that natural enthusiasm for global experiences will definitely pay off many times over for Cox and her fellow future leaders who are willing to expand their thinking to meet the challenges of working in an increasingly interconnected world.
It's a challenge Cox says she's more than willing to undertake – not just because it makes her more competitive in the job market, but because it enhances the way she'll look at the world.
"Thinking globally gives me the ability to see the world through someone else's eyes", Cox said. "It gives me the ability to look at things from many different perspectives."
Visit www.ey.com to learn more about the Emerging Leader Summit and EY's recruiting efforts.